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The Rediff Special/Deepti Patwardhan
Powar looking to pack the punch
August 03, 2006
Four wickets and 13 runs in three matches is hardly inspiring, but Ramesh Powar, having played his first full series in the Caribbean recently, is only just gaining in confidence in top level cricket.
"Coming back into the side after being dropped from the team after the Pakistan tour is wonderful," says a relaxed Powar, who hardly ever looks anxious or hurried.
"The team management showed a lot of faith in me by selecting me for the Test squad. Though I wasn't selected in the playing eleven, just being part of the team gave me a sense that I can survive the big league."
Raised in the hyper city of Mumbai, and amidst the glory of its cricket, nothing seems to faze the stocky spinner, who made his international debut in Pakistan in 2004. He takes in the hype surrounding Indian cricket and the criticism about his fitness with equal nonchalance.
It is hard to tell if he is excited or nervous. Whether he is selected for a high-profile series like Pakistan or dropped from the team, Powar's eyes, mostly covered with flashy shades, give nothing away.
Playing as strike bowler for Mumbai or working second fiddle to Harbhajan Singh in the Indian team, the 28 year old is 'cool' doing any job.
Sitting in a comfortable chair around the sidelines of a promotional event, Powar analyses his performance in the West Indies:
"It was a tough tour, but great experience," he says. "The wickets were very slow. You had to work around the batsman. It was difficult for the batsmen too, since the ball was not coming nicely onto the bat; but those were not pitches where you could get five wickets. Restricting the batsmen and frustrating them was what we had to do.
"You have to learn to bowl on all kinds of wickets to be successful in international cricket. I have learnt lot from the mistakes I made in the West Indies."
The West Indies was also a rare recent series in which India played two off-spinners -- Powar and Harbhajan Singh -- in tandem. Though both are off-break bowlers, their styles vary a lot. Harbhajan relies on his loop, bounce and variation, while Powar is more in the classical mould; a genuinely slow bowler, who holds the ball up, inducing the batsmen into making mistakes.
"I learnt from Harbhajan's experience. He is one of the best off-spinners in the country and I never thought I was competing with him. He used to pass me on some tips on the batsmen if he spotted any flaw," he says about his senior colleague.
"We were a little unlucky in the series. We lost two close games (the second and third ODI) after coming off a big winning streak. We have to understand that we can't win all the games. And I think the team showed character to move on and fight back very well in the Tests. Even then we were close to winning the first two Tests."
Apart from working around with tips from Harbhajan and Anil Kumble, Powar is concentrating on the training sessions.
"I am looking to making every session count," he says.
"Rahul Dravid and the entire support staff have been encouraging. They kept telling me that if I thought well, I could be here for at least seven to eight years."
Though Powar has managed to win the confidence of the team management, the spunky all-rounder quality is missing from his game. His contribution with the bat in the series against England and West Indies was negligible.
"I would like to believe that's because I haven't got enough chances. Also, the wickets in West Indies did not suit stroke players. You had to grind it out there; coming in so late in the innings didn't allow that."
Now ready to take the flight to Sri Lanka, Powar hopes he can improve on those previous performances in the upcoming tri-series that also involves the hosts and South Africa.
"India don't have a great record in Sri Lanka," he says, "but playing on the slow West Indian wickets have given us a lesson or two."